Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
$5.55
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Most say tomatoes, we say "Mostly Tomatos." We cut off the "e" and pass the savings along to you, like FREE 2-day SHIPPING for Prime Members. The cover being slightly damaged is the only blemish on an otherwise new book.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Book of Immortality: The Science, Belief, and Magic Behind Living Forever Hardcover – August 20, 2013

3.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

See all 13 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$0.49 $0.01

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In an effort as ambitious as it is (probably) impossible, former Vice editor Gollner (The Fruit Hunters) embarks on an epic quest to understand the nature of immortality. His exhaustive research leaves no fountain of youth untasted, no faith unexamined, and no pseudoscience unquestioned. This book is both a personal journey and an extensive overview of the ways in which humans cope with the idea of death and attempt to defy the aging process. Gollner approaches a number of religions with respectful curiosity, chatting with Jesuits, Sufi Muslims, Hasidic Jews, and more to gain perspective on the nature of the afterlife. He hobnobs with magician David Copperfield (who claims to have discovered a fountain of youth on his private island) and heads to Florida in search of Ponce de León's fabled find. He tours cryonic facilities, attends a get-together of immortalists and a Harvard-sponsored anti-aging symposium, and wraps it up with a Buddhist Elixir of Life ceremony. It's an engrossing, immensely fascinating tour of beliefs and attitudes about death, presented with a relatively unbiased, if skeptical, eye. There is no one true answer provided here; in fact, there may be too many answers. As Gollner puts it, We haven't yet found certainty. We can uncertainly state that we likely never will. His attempt may be the next best thing. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (Aug. 20)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Death perplexes the agnostic Gollner, who marvels at how people respond to its existential threat with immortalizing beliefs. Interrogating such beliefs, Gollner questions priests, mystics, magicians, and scientists—diverse voices for the nearly universal yearning for eternal life. The author contemplates religious doctrines defining death as a portal into eternity, and he reflects on martyrs’ steely faith in such doctrines. But as a skeptic, Gollner craves empirical proof. Yet in scrutinizing near-death experiences—including his own harrowing teenage brush with death—he finds only maddening ambiguities. The struggle to interpret these ambiguities carries readers into Freud’s theories, Swedenborg’s visions, and Whitman’s poetry. But this intensely personal attempt to understand mortality’s boundary turns satiric when it leads to naïfs and charlatans seeking not life after death but life without death. Without the excuse of their predecessors’ historical circumstances, these modern immortalists recapitulate early alchemists’ and explorers’ search for life-perpetuating potions or a Fountain of Youth. Though his research identifies scientists exploring plausible medical strategies for maximizing longevity, Gollner skewers with barbed irony the credulous souls who believe they can actually defeat death with New Age mantras—or schedule the medical resurrection of their cryogenically preserved bodies. A probing inquiry into the most insistent of human hopes. --Bryce Christensen
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439109427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439109427
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,102,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Adam Gollner is a brave man. He is one of those rare people who simply tells the truth and it shows in his prose. Again and again, he talks about people I know well over the past 20 years, again and again he describes them accurately. Most of the "aging community" is divided into two groups: the excitable crowd with scores of theories, none of them testable, and the careful scientists (like Liz Blackburn and Cal Harley) who do the work and shun the true believers. While we may (or may not) someday be able to reverse aging, most of the current claims are merely that: claims. As for immortality, it sells well in the tabloids but remains theology, not science. Gollner has the ability to describe everyone in the field, without sympathy, but equally without bias or rancor. He simply and accurately describes them as they actually are. I look forward to his next book: where else can I find someone who can tell me about what actually IS rather than about wishful thinking. Well done!
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up after seeing the glowing reviews in both Harper’s Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. It’s definitely an incredible, incredible read. If you believe that you are physically immortal, be prepared to have your world-view challenged. (I also think you will come away a better person.) And if you are more inclined toward a particular branch of spiritual immortality, you will certainly learn a great deal about where the idea of eternal life came from as well as the numerous alternatives out there. And if, like myself (and the author), you have no alignment with any faith, you will still come away with a deeper understanding for the need to believe. As many reviewers have pointed out, one of Adam Leithe Gollner’s strengths is that he is so open to everyone in this book -- and his framework for approaching immortality allows us to find that openness as well. This is one of those books that can change your way of looking at the world.

And then there's the wild journey to David Copperfield’s island in search of the Fountain of Youth! Plus tons of unexpected discoveries, eccentric characters, and an engrossing exposition of where longevity science is at today. A perfect balance of science writing, narrative non-fiction, poetic prose, humor and philosophy. Get it, read it, delve into the history of eternity. Excellent, excellent writing.
2 Comments 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
A religion, magic and science survey from antiquity to now, regarding humanity's quest to overcome death and defying age and disease.

Erudite and pop mingled with personal glimpses drawn from family and friends, from auntie Tiny's funeral notice, to an aging Jesuit professor Gervais to his buddy Raf Katigak.

The motive for his search is to find an intersection of religion, magic and science, wherein immortality is revealed as either fake or fact.

Neither of the 3 vectors survive Gollner's probing prose unscathed, journalism, often very funny, at times with a quirky twist all his own, witty and always limpid discourse worthy of the best academics.

The highlight of the book is how Gollner and his sidekick Raf, penetrate the creepy world of the magician David Copperfield, a world of illusionism and fakery and the pitifully vulnerable creature that is David, hiding behind his fountain of youth on his kitschy resort, a distopia in the Bahamas, designed to lure the b illionares of the day.

2013 finds immortality just as elusive as it was since man began to dream of how to defeat death.

A good read, lots of facts and laughs throughout.

A tip to the reader: If you have a property with a dubious water source, put it on the market as a fountain of youth.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very readable book about death and everything we do to deny it. Great stories and examples and every one will have ample opportunity to recognize themselves and others in it. I realized as I got into it, however, that my interest in it was not going to carry me through every chapter. I think the reader will get to a point that's suitable for them, and then the rest of it is just more of the same. I'm not really an academic reader and stick mostly to fiction, so perhaps it's just my own laziness.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition
Well, the idea of immortality is neat in theory but in practice maybe not so much. But that hasn't stopped people from being consumed by this idea, and by people I mean HUMANITY throughout history. Divided into sections about belief (ie: not just religion), magic (with a memorable guest appearance by David Copperfield) and science (some quakery and some not so duckish), Gollner travels the world (literally) to get to the heart of why we seek immortality. This could have been a facile book but Gollner's natural curiosity (I mean, if he were questioning me, I might punch him eventually) (FULL DISCLOSURE: Adam is my friend) has him exploring diverse lines of questioning and leads and, well, he gets invited to David Copperfield's "magic" private island in the Caribbean and to a party set in 2068 in California (duh) and to talk to sufis and a Hassidic baker and on and on it goes. The amount of scholarship here is astounding: just the forward throws a tremendous amount of (new) information at the reader. But all that scholarship is not showy - it's there for a reason and for a conclusion that is ultimately profoundly heartfelt and human. This book could have easily been 25% shorter (the editor in me kept cutting passages) but that is a minor quibble in a book that is truly fascinating (in the broadest sense of the word) from start to finish.
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews